One of the first decisions you’ll need to make as a small business owner is whether you want to build a personal brand or business brand for your company. And at the most basic level, a personal brand is about you, and a business brand is about your business.
Is personal branding for me?
Personal brands are a great fit for businesses whose unique value is dependent upon the experience, expertise or talent of the business owner. Your business essentially is an extension of you.
“Personal branding can work well if you’re an artist, author, professional speaker, or coach because a customer is typically assessing the person’s qualifications as much as the service or product they are buying,” says BusinessBlocks Coach Jessica Smith.
One of the biggest benefits of personal branding is flexibility. This means even if the business owner shifts the purpose of the business, there is no need for a rebrand, allowing the company to maintain its name.
Personal branding is a lifetime commitment – it takes a lot of time and effort for business owners.
It requires them to build up their own credibility and visibility by becoming an expert in their field and sharing their knowledge and unique perspective through online and offline marketing on a consistent basis. This could be in the form of regularly writing blog posts about industry changes or engaging with other thought leaders to discuss relevant news topics and to bounce ideas off each other on social media.
What about small business branding?
On the contrary, business brands are a good fit for businesses that want to scale beyond one person’s experience, expertise or talent. It’s all about building around a separate identity that is specially created for the business, which usually involves coming up with a name that’s independent of your personal name.
“For this, it’s important to establish a separate brand identity because what the business offers is not directly related or limited to any one person,” adds Smith. Creating a business brand helps to immediately communicate what a business does and what its unique offering is.
However, it’s important to note that you don’t have to choose one or the other. Creating a personal brand in addition to a business brand can assist with increasing awareness and establishing credibility if the business owner is a recognized expert.
Not only is a personal brand relevant to the entrepreneur who owns a business, but it’s important to everyone.
Cultivating your own brand can make you stand out from the crowd and it brings out the best in you.
Here are 4 tips to help you build a strong personal brand.
Identify your ideal client or customer.
Know who you want to attract. Who do you ideally want to work with or sell to? What kinds of customers have been most satisfied? What kinds of customers do you most like to work with? In order to make the most of your marketing efforts, knowing your target audience is key, so that the content speaks to the right people and converts your audience into loyal customers.
Create a simple, clear message.
Once you know who your ideal client is, you need to communicate what it is you offer and what your impact is. Ask yourself: What do you do or what do you sell? Who you work with or who is your product for? What is you or your products’ impact?
Find your style.
What’s different about you? Think about the unique aspects of yourself that will attract the jobs and clientele that you want. The truth is: people don’t care about your products or services until you make them. Your personal brand tells them why they should care – whether the story has to do with your company’s origin or the mission-driven approach behind your business. The more you demonstrate value through your stories, the more likely they are to buy from you.
Build your platform.
Get out there and start building credibility and visibility consistently. Spread the message about what you do, who you work with and the impact you make. Methods include: in-person networking, writing blog posts of your own or contributing to others, doing interviews, creating social media posts and participating in speaking engagements at related industry conferences.
Lastly, always remember the golden rule of successful branding: be authentic. Think about the type of client or customer you would like to work with, simply share the benefits of what you do or sell, stand out with a style and story that’s unique to you, and build out a platform using your own ideas and expertise.
Have fun and happy branding!